Tag Archives: journalism

New Year’s note for friends and family– old, new, and lost

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I can’t really explain 2012– it was confusing, both amazing and horrible at different times and in really intense ways. But I can say that this year absolutely solidified for me who is and who isn’t true to me, true to others, true to themselves. And rather than discovering, I clarified for myself just who I am and what I’m here to do.

I finally came to terms with the demons that have taken me under for the past four years, with the things that haunted me for far longer.  I realized that pursuing a career in medicine was a waste of my time and that my delusions of grandeur and being someone that I’ve had since childhood are perhaps not simply delusions. I realized that I have a talent for a reason, and that I want to live every day of my life being in love with it.

As usual, however, this year I lost some friends. There have been those that had already drifted who fell off the radar completely and some who went from ‘friend’ to following suit. Quite honestly, it bothered me not on my own behalf but on theirs. The irony here, the sad part, you see, is that many did so because they believe me to be judgmental and/or untrustworthy… when the truth is that the people they spend time with now are the ones with a history of spreading gossip, and my mouth has been shut to the point where they themselves aren’t even aware how much I know of all their dirty little secrets. (Of course, perhaps they now have an inkling as I’ve recently dropped a few hints to some of their in-the-loop friends.) I earned the Lois Lane title for no reason other than my knack for always finding out without much effort. Yet people think I’m an unaware gossip, ostracizing me or– in some cases– using me even though I know and don’t judge a thing. The people you care about so often don’t seem to realize how genuine you are… And how disingenuous are the ones they’re surrounded by. It seems that being fake is what gets people to think that you’re a true friend, and that’s one of the harshest realities I’ve realized this past year.

2012 made me realize that public opinion, popular demand, the majority mindset is often mistaken, misled and that working to change it rather than conform is worth doing. For once, I actually tried the whole being overly nice and holding back from saying what’s on my mind thing, but I was miserable. It made me realize being brutally honest is how I work best, popular opinion be damned.

Freshman year of college had me feeling so alone and like an outsider, something I haven’t felt for years. I’ve begun my sophomore year with an effort to make new friends, and through classes and a certain new organization I joined as a board member this semester, I’ve found people willing to talk about more than gossip, drugs, alcohol, partying, trashy and ridiculous shows, the opposite sex, and other mindless, mind-numbing topics. I’ve met guys who have no problem with a girl holding her own in an argument or hitting them with a sharp verbal jibe. I’ve met girls who don’t need my constant gushing upon every reunion or to compete with me for approval, popularity, boys. Have I made any extremely close friends, relationships that will definitely last a lifetime? Not yet, but I’m hoping all of these are headed in a direction where they will become so. I really do.

Do not mistake this post for an “ahh, here’s the end to The Great Story of 2012”; those are written far too often. Every year is just a date. They all run together, flowing in a linear fashion and in many ways, the story’s just beginning. Every new year I have a feeling as to what the next 12 months will bring, and 2013 is going to be a big one for me. I say this out of prior knowledge and anticipation of certain things, and just gut instinct about all the rest. We always think that our future is so far off and then one day, all of a sudden, you’re right at its door.

2012 was insane. I got into the biggest fights of my life with my mother. I had new kinds of conversations with my father. One of my best friends was off at sea or busy at military school, and it made me terribly lonely and forgotten until he finally visited with a buddy who confirmed my fears were for naught. I got back in touch with an old best friend who’s steadily coming back into my life, although it honestly feels as if she never left. I spent the year working through issues from the past with my closest friend of these three, getting further than I ever thought we would, and our friendship is stronger for it. I’ve come to accept the fact that there are some family issues that will never be resolved, that some people will never realize that there is another side to one story or a different perspective to another. I’ve realized just who my crew was in high school from the way we’ve kept in touch and missed each other in our odd, subtle ways. And I never stopped reading Harry Potter.

My resolutions are never new for the year. They are what I’ve already been working and improving on: writing more blogs posts, articles, poems, and fiction; getting back to my normal weight;  getting my shit together with MakeWaves; getting more politically and socially active; bringing the grades up; improving on all my relationships; making SJP bigger on campus than anyone could have thought; and reading a hell of a lot more. I will calmly but surely show those who do not see how much they’ve been mistaken that I’ll always have their back and that I’ve never faltered from being true to them… that I care more than they know. I will prove that my journalistic ambitions are far from small and ordinary.

I’m pulling myself out of a four year rut for good. And I’m going to make waves and take everything and everyone by storm… just the way I like it.

Just watch me.

Ab imo pectore,

Syjil

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Getting the Peter Parker treatment

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The Express Tribune was launched over two years ago as Pakistan’s first internationally affiliated newspaper. Owned by the Lakson Group (think the Murdochs of Pakistan… or 2nd to the Murdochs of Pakistan), the Tribune is in partnership with The International Herald Tribune, the global edition of the New York Times. Today was my second day interning at its Karachi office.

I work at the City desk and my boss, the City Editor, is… Well, let’s just say I feel she’s taken the whole tough editor stereotype from movies a little too seriously. Sure, a good editor’s a Perry White, but this woman is channeling J. Jonah Jameson. Of course, having picked out five errors in the leading front page story (Pakistani English isn’t very strict) while waiting in the lobby before my interview a few days before, I’m too cocky to be anything but amused. Seeming to not realize she’s dealing with a kid who’s been going to school in New Jersey for eight years, she’s been throwing the F-word around like it’s a whole new thing. And while I slightly and silently agreed when she called my mother over-protective to her face the day before when Mommy Dearest wanted to come in with me to see where I was working, I couldn’t help but wonder if the woman had ever heard of Daniel Pearl. Turns out my boss hadn’t realized I not only studied in the States but lived there as well until she asked to clarify what I meant when I called in earlier to check whether I should come in today because the Consulate had told us to be extra careful. ( As usual, there’s been some violence on the streets after an assassination attempt of a local political/religious leader which freaked my mom out and led to her forcing me to call ahead.) But all this wasn’t until after my darling boss had already managed to tell me I shouldn’t be in journalism if I was going to be a pansy. Needless to say, I’m no longer involving my mother in any of this. And even more needless to say… I’m definitely going to show her how much I’m not a pansy.

Still, I’m learning some new things, and I like it. After Miss Congeniality made some changes to a piece I had edited, I went to fix it on my desktop when she took the print out she had marked up, turned it over and told me to make the changes from memory. I had to translate Urdu quotes into English and remember to stick to British spellings. (Thank you, Inkheart and UK versions of Harry Potter.) The power went out a few times, and I was handed chai without being asked if I wanted any. Typical Karachi in a typical newspaper office.

Being a journalist,– a proper one, at least– you want to see the world, meet all kinds of people from all kinds of places, experience different cultures, and learn that which you cannot from textbooks and lecture halls. Actually working at a media outlet on the other side of the world is the perfect experience. You learn a different language, different lifestyle, immerse yourself in another culture, see another viewpoint of media (a much more objective one at that). Journalists record history as it happens. We tell stories in the eyes of those who were there. And being in another country, the story is one that never fails to intrigue.